5/15/2012

Saudi Arabia Makes Smart Investment In Solar Energy


Saudi Arabia is very much known for its large oil reserves, but even more bountiful is its rich sunlight, shining mostly 365 days of the year.  The kingdom promises to invest $100 billion to develop 41 gigawatts of solar electricity by 2032.  The plan could eventually transform Saudi Arabia from the world's largest oil exporter to a leading innovator of solar energy and technologies.


The plan calls for the majority of the nation's future solar energy capacity, 25 GW, to come from solar thermal technologies.  Photovoltaic panels at massive solar installations would generate an additional 16 GW of energy for the country.  The bidding process for these renewable energy plants will begin next year.  In the mean time, the country will roll out a subsidy plan similar to the feed-in-tariff programs that have allowed solar technology to prosper in countries like Germany.


For Saudi Arabia, the move toward solar energy is a strategic business decision.  Additional energy generated from sources like solar means more oil and gas, which will only increase in price, can be exported abroad.  In the long run, that means more of a financial windfall for the Saudis as they use less of their oil and gas at home while selling it elsewhere.